tv Your Business MSNBC October 12, 2013 2:30am-3:01am PDT
washington battles while small business owners grapple with the complexities of the affordable care act. the answers you're looking for regarding the new health care exchanges. plus, this woman auto repair expert succeeds in a male-dominated business by telling not selling. that's all coming up next on your business. ♪ small businesses are revitalizing the economy, and american express open is here to help. that's why we're proud to
present "your business" on msnbc. ♪ hi there everyone. i'm jj ramberg and welcome to "your business" the show that champions entrepreneurship and helps your small business grow and survive. i admit, when it comes to cars, beyond knowing how to change a tire and check the oil, i don't really know that much. lift up the hood and it looks like a puzzle that i cannot solve. well, i've seen a mechanic in queens new york took note of people like me and when her business start today slide, she saw an opportunity that turned everything around. >> it's saturday morning at the great bear auto shop in queens, new york. and things look pretty busy. people are pulling in with their cars and the shop owner, audra
forden is busy looking under hoods. guess how much revenue she's bringing in from all of this business? >> zero money. >> that's right, zero. the people here today aren't paying for anything. they're here for a free workshop given by audra called women auto know. >> women auto know is connecting the dots, bringing women into the automotive industry by providing the education and resources to empower them, about being safe drivers. >> audra started women auto know five years ago in the heart of the recession. she had taken over the auto shop from her father in 1998. the fourth generation to run the business. and things were going well until the economy took a turn. >> the world as i knew it was devastated because my customers were not fixing their cars. they had no jobs and they couldn't afford to auto repair. >> audra would sit outside her shop and watch the boulevard, worried about her prospects.
>> all the cars are passing by and it was not very many cars. the bus stop where i was waving to my neighbor was full. >> she knew she had to do something to get more customers or she'd have to shut down the company that had been in her family for generations. around the same time, a few things happened to her that made her rethink her industry. one day a woman came in needing help. >> this woman came in frantic that her car was overheating. when i asked her for her records, she pulled out four invoices. i could see she was having a major emotional breakdown. she didn't have a car doctor, nobody to turn to. >> audra was taking note of the relationship between women and the auto industry. she tells the story of a customer who called great bear and when audra answered the phone and tried to help him, he insisted on being connected to a man. >> there was a janitor cleaning and i put him on the phone, i was on the other phone, i was whispering on the other end what he should say. >> once in arizona, she was with
a girlfriend whose car broke down and the repairman told her she need today pay a bunch of money because her air pump was broken. >> i was like can you show it to us? he pointed to the alternator. >> with those stories in the back of her mind and the recession weighing down on her, audra decided if she was going to save her company, she was going to have to do it by changing an industry. she would make it her mission to teach women about their cars, help them learn the easy things like changing a tire and checking the oil and tutor them on the bigger things so they wouldn't get cheated. ♪ >> this to me is greek. i could be looking at anything right now and i think i'm typical, i go to the auto body shop and whatever they tell me, i think all right, i don't know if you're cheating me or not but i don't know what to say, here, fix it. whatever it takes. is that what you find? >> i find that people are like that a lot. the ones who come in like that are the ones who i bring underneath the hood and not to
sell but to tell and educate. >> now, once a month on saturdays she holds her women auto know workshops. >> your car is a mute but it speaks. if you can understand what your baby is saying, you're okay. you need to name your car so you become personal, not oh, that car again, it's i got to take bessie to the shop. >> telling, not selling as she calls it, saved her company. >> earning customers' trust must be a big issue in the repair industry. >> that's the hurdle that everyone deals with on a regular basis. even if you're doing the right thing. there are shops doing the right thing. people don't believe it. >> through her workshops, audra gained the trust of her community. >> workshops were a great way to help people struggling in the economy to be able to do things on their own, small services, changing a light bulb. how much is that $5. i'm going to charge you $20 to put it in. out of all that time, do it
yourself. save your time, save your money and then when the big stuff happens, when you need a timing belt or you need suspension or brakes, then you come in to me and you know that i'm here for you. >> linda has been to a workshop and is now a customer. she's told her friends who have also become both students and customers. >> i think once they came here and they saw the trust and saw audra's level of excitement and enthusiasm, then they've felt more comfortable taking a class and the trust was there. >> it's clear audra cares deeply about continuing the legacy of her family with great bear. but her mission, the thing that really gets her up in the morning, the thing she will not stop until she completes is teaching people about their cars. >> how does it make you feel when a group of women leaves your workshop and suddenly they know a whole bunch of things they didn't know coming in? >> even mid-workshop. i'm like hot dig at this dog willing, it fills me up.
it feeds my passion for real. fire. invigorating. ♪ >> many women business owners around the country are just like audra. trying to succeed in male-dominated industries including diane, who i met a while back in cleveland. she's a woman in what has traditionally been a man's world. it was her touch that turned this gun store business around. >> your pump am action shot guns made a very distinct noise. your burglars or your criminals, they all know that noise. the chances of them walking away from that is another story. >> there's no question about who is in charge here, but for some customers of this cuyahoga county, ohio, gun shop, diane done net can be a bit of a surprise. >> i shock people from time to
time because i am a woman that knows about guns. >> diane not only knows about guns, she buys them, sells them and teaches people to use them. >> i want you to put your finger on the trigger. >> properly. >> that's good trigger control. >> she's one of a small number of female gun store operators in the country. >> believe it or not, there's more than you think. they're all behind the scenes. where i'm "out front" here, the most of the gun shops, they're family businesses. the men are the out front but the women are in the back running it. >> diane runs the whole show at stone wall gun shop from stockroom to showroom never planned to have a career dealing in firearms. it was her husband who got her into it. >> tell me about the first time you shot a gun. >> oh, my god. well, let's see. the flame went out that way, the casing went that way, hit me in the head. i set the gun down and said this is not for me. i just -- i was just -- it was
just totally freaked me out. >> she didn't stay freaked out for long. in fact, she discovered she has a knack for the business and a taste for the sport. >> it's like with anything that any woman gets into, if you're going to run any type of business, you've got to know what you're doing. you got to know your product. you've got to be able to sell it. >> i can tell you firsthand, she certainly knows what she's doing when it comes to operating firearms. >> drop your slide. okay, that thumb up. lean forward. >> whoo! >> i told you you would get it. >> after 17 years in the business, she rarely takes her ioffe the target. >> when we took over the old owners were doing about $300,000 a year. we're at over $2 million. >> some of that increase in profit comes from cultivating a
whole new class of customers. women. >> the majority of women do feel more comfortable talking to another woman about firearms. >> do you attract more female customers? >> um, i believe yes, we do. but it's not only just because i'm here. it's because of my guys. i have a great staff here. they have their days when i'd like to ring their next, but i do have a great staff. they listen to the women. >> bringing in women isn't the only reason her store has thrived. diane credits her savvy investors for choosing to put their profits back into the business. >> well, i got a lot of different guns here and all the different cal bers. >> this is how you run your company. i feel like you do not take no for an answer and you will bargain somebody down and by the time someone walks out of the door, they will have bought what you wanted. >> most of the time, yeah. >>.
breaking into the good 'ol boys club can be difficult. but there are many successful female executives dedicated to helping other women entrepreneurs follow their lead. here are five national women's business groups worth looking into courtesy of into it. >> one, the national a soaks of women businesses owners, representing more than 10 million women-owned businesses, there are more than 70 local chapters nationwide. two, american business women's association. this network hosts an annual leadership conference where you can network with both female entrepreneurs and other professional women who could become future customers. >> three, 85 broads, founded by him at goldman sachs, they host network events in new york city and regional outposts. >> four, ladies who launch. this website for female
entrepreneurs offers press opportunities, a resource library, networking opportunities and more. >> and five, women's business development center. if you want to get certified as a women's business enterprise, this group provides valuable information and resources with a focus on government contracting, they also host webinars and in-person courses. these are challenging times for some small business owners who like everyone else in this country are reeling from the events taking place in washington. the impasse in congress over passing a budget has resulted in a government shutdown which is starting to have far-reaching effects on the small business community. the small business administration is closed down and stopped processing loan applications. small businesses with government contracts are impacted, refinancing on mortgages on commercial property also affected. this is just the beginning. all of in because of political infighting over the a affordable care act just as health care exchange enrollment started,
causing more anxiety and more confusion for small businesses that want to participate. so how are owners dealing with all of this and what do they need to know about navigating the new health exchanges? katie is the director of government affairs for the national association for the self-employed and david is a board member at the national small business association. e. the vice president of finance at air tractor, which is an employee-owned business. great to see both of you guys. there's a lot for us to parse out here. katie, i want to start with you. how are your members feeling with what's going on in washington, what's going on with health care, the aca, how are they feeling? >> i think as it relates to the government shutdown, our members are just exacerbated by the inability for our elected officials to come to the table and solve these problems well in advance of these deadlines that keep on creeping up on us. this isn't just a short term hit
for them. i mean, there are going to be weeks of delays, even if the government started running tomorrow or god forbid, it takes until the 17th for there to be a plan in place. >> if you can talk to me, i understand the idea of not feeling like there's an advocate. when you say it's impacting small businesses, it's very obvious how it's impacting people who have contracts with the government, waiting for sba loans as we talked about. how is it impacting the average small business owner snoo? >> they're importers or exporters of goods. they need materials for things they're manufacturing or wholesale selling. where are the materials right now? probably stuck in the baltimore dock or in the new york dock bait waiting for inspectors to come back on the job and certify that the materials can make it safely into the united states. >> i want to move to the health care exchanges. you talked about how a lot of your members are interested in this and talked about the confusion. david, i want to get down to logistics. for people out there, small businesses who are interested in
this but don't even know where to start, if you could take me through a step by step, here's jj ramberg company, i have 25 employees, i don't provide them insurance right now, but i who like to, i think there's an opportunity out there for me, what do i do? ? >> if you're under 50 employees, it comes back to the individuals and back to the exchanges. contacting the exchanges and getting signed up is the step to do right now. >> do i tell my employees to go contact the exchange or do i contact the exchange? >> either one. but you as the employer could contact the exchange and see what help you could get from there or help for your employees. >> you know, i'm self-employed. i see an opportunity here. where do i even start? >> so in the last couple of weeks we've been telling our members a couple of things. number one, go to health care.gov. that is the main portal if you
have an internet connection, which some americans don't and there are well-publicized phone numbers and there are even center hard locations that you can go to. but health care.gov is a great place to get started. you can pre-register and walk through the whole process. you don't actually need to transact the purchase of health insurance right there and right then. you'll need to get your last tax return. please have that ready. they are going to ask you for your adjusted gross income level. that will help the system verify if you're able to get premium assistance. make sure that you have any relevant medical documents that if you have a preexisting condition or the names of your doctors. >> i want to ask, i want to turn to david for a second. as a business owner, what do i need to evaluate as a small business person. should i be going to an exchange or talk to a broker and go through a more traditional experience of getting health care if i want to provide it for
my employees. what questions do i need to be asking myself? >> from a small business perspective, small businesses are unique, first of all, and they're also resourceful. so i think gathering as much information as they can at first and then make that evaluation for their particular circumstances is the best way to proceed. >> katie and david, thank you for starting to help us parse this out and try and understand how it all works. really appreciate you coming on the show. >> when we come back, we answer your small business questions, including when the time is right to hire a cfo. and we'll tell you what you need to know about effective text message marketing. has it's ups and downs. seasonal... doesn't begin to describe it. my cashflow can literally change with the weather.
anything that gives me some breathing room makes a big difference. the plum card from american express gives your business flexibility. get 1.5% discount for paying early, or up to 60 days to pay without interest, or both each month. i'm nelson gutierrez and i'm a member of the smarter money. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. if you live with a teenager, you probably know this. e-mail is pass a. just the other day, i was talking to a business owner trying to reach college students. she said after a survey, she realized her e-mail marketing was ineffective. she needed to be texting. it's not just that demographic. 90% of all american adults own cell phones. i wanted to take time to dig into text message marketing. james sit ron is the chief
marketing officer at a mobile and online payment company. he founded this company bought earlier this year. great to see you, james. >> you as well. >> i find this fascinating. i still lovie mail. i use text, obviously. but i personally get annoyed at text message marketing. yet, i know that there are lots of people, that's where they get their information. that's where they want to get their information. >> right. the big challenge is 90% of e-mails today go unread. >> right. >> even 70% of facebook posts and 80% of tweets are missed by consumers. most consumers now go, i want to get my messaging on the one device that's with me 24/7. that's text messaging. >> start with the basics. if i'm a company and want to get people signed up on my text messaging plan, what do i do? how do i get them to sign up? >> the easiest way is get a short code and promote that short code.
you want to do -- text join the 51515 to get weekly specials on your mobile devices. >> how do i accept that app? >> you can use a service. there's a few websites where you buy that short code. it's replacing the domain name. instead of putting your website address, you're seeing smart marketers and small businesses put their short code everywhere. on signage, on bus ads, print ads. >> what kinds of things -- is this the same kind of marketing i would use on e-mail or do i want coupon codes. i see you have an example from the baby grocery store, $10 off when you spend $30. is that the kind of messaging you want to put out? >> it's the medium we use with loved ones. when you deliver text marketing, do something valuable. exclusive content, cool coupons and personalize it. so the message you might get from jj is based on something you might have bought before or something that's catered to your
interests. >> it's interesting because when we talk about marketing and social sites, we talk a lot about don't give them offers. what you want to do is start a conversation. do you think of text as very transactional, actually give them an -- this is not a conversation. this is give them something they want? >> you can actually deliver much different information than just a coupon. the brands that do the best job are delivering videos, pictures, multimedia and they're following up with a coupon. >> i see you have message from rick here. enjoyed in 39-second teaser video. it's still short enough to fit in a text. click through, you get the video. >> this is a company by the name of partners trust. when you're buying a home today, you want to have a relationship with your broker. this is maybe the biggest purchase you've made in your life. to get a 30-second video from the agent telling you this is who i am, these are properties that might be of interest to you actually bridges the gap
between, it's not just a transaction, you're building a relationship with the consumer. >> are opt out rates are the same? forget the spam part. people who actively opted into a e-mail newsletter or offers letter versus someone who has actively opted into -- >> it's usually much less on text. when you say i want to get a text message from this brand or picture or video or a coupon, you're really opting in, you're saying send me something of value on my most personal device. >> uh-huh. >> because of that the opt-out is lower. >> thanks so much. this was great. nice meeting you. >> well, thank you. video conferencing has come a long way from the expensive setups of early years. so if you want to see everyone participating in your meeting but you don't want to travel to do it, check out our app of the week. blue jeans is a free video conferencing app where you can chat with up to 25 people at a time. everyone can connect to the same meeting using their platform of
choice from google video chat to cisco and skype. share or view content during the meeting and arrange the layout of conference participants to suit your preferences. it's time to answer some of your business questions. adam ritz is the co-founder and editor in chief of thrill list, the all digital men's lifestyle brand and celeste is the founder and ceo of skin authority, a company based in carlsbad, california. it was profiled on this show. it's great to see you on the set. adam, always great to see you too. >> my pleasure. the first question is about keeping your employees in the small business game. >> how we can incentivize our employees to continue working for us when we're at a small and early stage when we're not able to provide them with monetary compensation. >> i'm going to up this a notch and work in the technology world. let's talk about engineers who are getting head hunted 16 times
a day. >> yeah. >> how do you -- this is what you do. you have a lot of them. you were small, now you're big and well-known. how did you keep people? >> a lot was ensuring job satisfaction. so much isn't monetary. people that work for charities, they're not getting paid well but they care about what they do. if they're not shaping the mission of the company, in some cases we put them on really cool projects, let them do what they were really interested in doing and pioneer cutting-edge stuff that we benefited from having these guys create for us. >> when you have a startup and you have so much to get done, how do you carve out time for them to do this cool side project when really you need this new product built? >> it's really hard. i think that that is really one of the biggest tricks. they can't do vanity projects when the whole site has to be kept running. in some cases it's buying the guy a whiskey after a long day and having the sort of personal connection.
>> to really give them opportunity to invest. for example in professional development. it's not cash compensation, but giving them an ability to enroll in a program that's outside of work that helps develop their skill set. >> would you -- >> letting them feel like you're investing in them and believe in them in exchange for the passion that they show for what you do. even simple things, having something on the internet showing great ideas that were innovative within the company and giving them credit. because so much of it is about appreciation and recognition. >> right. >> and that goes so much further than cash in so many ways. >> and culture. having a place where you like to be. >> feel like you have an opportunity. >> let's move on to the next one. it's about hiring other managers to help run your company. >> as the company grows, at what stage is it appropriate to hire your first full-time coo or cfo? >> there are two things going on there. what the gentleman was describing and then what he sort
of posited as a solution. the c at the beginning of the titles is why you spend so much on these people. you want somebody who is going to innovate and make decisions and invest in that channel beyond executing what you need. when you're talking about payroll, get an accountant, get someone to do your books. if you need someone to be a thought leader and innovator, that's when you pony up for a c-level hire. >> the other thing, when you are small and growing, cash flow is critical. a lot of times when you look at investing in someone like that, they can pay for themselves in efficiencies you can get in operations. in effect tifl managing your cost and your expenses that pay for that position. in my mind, you want to be able to be the strategy leader in your organization for all the things we were discussing. you don't have time do that if you're micro managing operational things that could be better executed by someone. you have to know what your strengths are and hire to fill the gaps. many times, a cfo or coo is
critical to that. >> let's move on to the next question. an e-mail from neal. he wroept, how does a small business set a profit margin. should it be a standard for your respective industry? it's a great question. pricing is hard for startup, for anyone, really. >> it's critical. people look at industry benchmarks and they are important but it's so important to work backwards to what margins you need to cover your operational costs and to really look at having, in my experience with our company, setting those margin goals and then making sure you're consistent with that when you go out for pricing and everything else that you do. it's really critical. while industry can be a benchmark, it's really critical to have a goal and make sure that every time you set pricing or you go out into looking at the margins, that you're factoring in all your overhead. >> it's really a sign of who you are, right? this or this. what are you selling?
>> i think the other thing is how much you charge is also a big sign of who you are. if you know what your cost of goods are and you know the margin you want to make, there's still the question of what you're going to take to market as your price. in some cases a high price dictates a quality product. >> right. if you want to be a luxury brand. >> if you look at the luxury spirits world. so much of that is who are we going to be competitive with and how will we be perceived at this cost. >> it was great to see you both. thank you so much. we appreciate all of your advice today. if any of you out there have been watching but want to learn more about today's show. just click on our website. it's open forum.com/your business. once up get there, you'll find all of today's segments, plus web exclusive content with a lot more information to help your business grow. you can also follow us on twitter,@msnbc your biz. we talk to guru and business
woman martha stewart. >> i've always said since i started working that i am my customer. i want to appeal to me. what's missing in my life? what void can i fill that will fill the voids for everybody that's like me? >> we'll get more sage advice from her about her remarkable journey to entrepreneurial success. until then, i'm jj ramberg. remember, we make your business our business. building animatronics is all about getting things to work together. the timing, the actions, the reactions. everything has to synch up. my expenses are no different. receiptmatch on the business gold rewards card synchronizes your business expenses. just shoot your business card receipts
and they're automatically matched up with the charges on your online statement. i'm john kaplan, and i'm a member of a synchronized world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. happyfully. this is going to be one of those shows where something might go terrifically, technically wrong. it might be more fun if it works. i'm warning you. today in our nation's capitol. it rained. dreary morning commute in the d.c. area today. because it was raining hard at times this morning, that meant the rainy morning come meet around the beltway from virginia to maryland and the d.c. area, it went at a dreary, raining morning speed, but it was special. the day of the freedom trucker's protest ride, where they were going to bring washington to its knees with a massive convoy